Earth Strike by Ian Douglas REVIEW

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Military SF is as American as testy insularity and fructose-induced obesity. There are moments in Earth Strike where you practically want to punch the air and shout “Hell yeah! America!” In a book about a multinational organisation, all the major characters are American, serving aboard a spaceship called America. But it is military SF; the author knows his market. Written to the bestseller beat of frequently repeated information, breathless infodumps and throttle-yanking action, it has a pace that drags the reader along.

The plot is straightforward: mankind is approaching a Vingean singularity . An alien empire of extreme vintage and vast power would like us to stop, please. As nobody tells the Americans what to do, war begins.

Packed to the galactic gunwhales full of hard speculation on near-lightspeed combat, this first book in the Star Carrier series is superior to Jack Campbell’s The Lost Fleet and other war stories that cover similar ground by dint of its crisp readability. The science is explained clearly and repeated often enough for all to grasp it, and it’s cool stuff, if implausible in parts. The characters and aliens fit into the usual slots – the aliens have lots of apostrophes; Admiral Koenig could only be played by Edward James Olmos – but it’s forgiveable shorthand. And there is an exception: one lead character, a technology-hating outsider, who adds a bit of freshness.

That old Republican lament about hard-working military types being undermined by politicians is front and centre, but again, it’s military SF, isn’t it? What do you expect? Fun, fast-paced war.

Guy Haley

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